Olive Garden’s breadsticks are a popular appetizer choice for many diners. But with calorie counts and nutritional information readily available, some people wonder – just how many calories are in one Olive Garden breadstick?
A single regular-sized breadstick from Olive Garden contains approximately 140 calories.
Detailed Breakdown of Olive Garden Breadstick Calories
While the quick answer provides a general calorie amount, looking closer at Olive Garden’s nutrition information shows some variation in breadstick calories depending on the exact type:
- Regular breadsticks: 140 calories each
- Whole Grain breadsticks: 150 calories each
- Giant breadsticks: 260 calories each
So the calorie count can range from 140-260 per breadstick, depending on whether you choose regular, whole grain, or giant. Now let’s look deeper at the nutritional profile.
Regular Breadsticks Nutrition Facts
Here are the basic nutrition facts for Olive Garden’s original, standard-sized breadsticks according to the company’s online nutrition information:
- Serving size: 1 regular breadstick
- Calories: 140
- Fat: 2g
- Carbohydrates: 24g
- Dietary fiber: 1g
- Sugars: 2g
- Protein: 3g
- Sodium: 320mg
As you can see, the majority of calories in Olive Garden breadsticks comes from carbohydrates. There is also a significant amount of sodium, providing 14% of the daily recommended value per breadstick. So a single regular breadstick contains 140 calories, mostly from carbs and a moderate amount of sodium.
Whole Grain Breadsticks
Olive Garden also offers multigrain or whole grain breadsticks. Here are the nutrition facts for these:
- Serving size: 1 whole grain breadstick
- Calories: 150
- Fat: 2.5g
- Carbohydrates: 26g
- Dietary fiber: 3g
- Sugars: 2g
- Protein: 4g
- Sodium: 320mg
The whole grain breadsticks are slightly higher in calories at 150 per serving. They also contain a bit more fiber and protein compared to regular breadsticks. But the increase is minor, only 10 additional calories over regular.
As you might expect, Olive Garden’s giant breadsticks pack a higher calorie punch than standard or whole grain varieties. Here are the giant breadstick nutrition facts:
- Serving size: 1 giant breadstick
- Calories: 260
- Fat: 4g
- Carbohydrates: 44g
- Dietary fiber: 2g
- Sugars: 4g
- Protein: 5g
- Sodium: 660mg
At 260 calories apiece, giant breadsticks contain almost double the calories of regular ones. They are also higher in fat, carbs, and sodium. So if you are looking for the lowest calorie breadstick option, steer clear of the giants.
Olive Garden Breadstick Calories Compared to Other Appetizers
Now that we know how many calories are in Olive Garden breadsticks, how does this compare to other appetizer options on their menu?
Here is a calorie comparison of some popular Olive Garden appetizers per single serving:
|Soup (minestrone, bowl)||140|
|Fried Mozzarella (5 pieces)||260|
|Lasagna Fritta (2 pieces)||370|
|Fried Zucchini (10 pieces)||390|
As you can see, regular breadsticks are one of the lowest-calorie Olive Garden appetizers, tied with a bowl of soup. Only salad and plain grilled chicken breast have fewer calories. So breadsticks can be a sensible option if you are watching your calorie intake.
Tips for Enjoying Olive Garden Breadsticks While Managing Calories
Here are some tips for enjoying Olive Garden breadsticks as an appetizer while still keeping calories under control:
Stick to 1-2 Breadsticks
Limit yourself to 1-2 breadsticks. Olive Garden serves them warm and freshly baked, which makes it easy to overindulge. But practice portion control to keep calories in check.
Choose Regular Size
Opt for regular-sized breadsticks instead of giant for the lowest calorie option.
Use Olive Oil and Herbs for Dipping
Rather than butter or creamy Alfredo sauce, dip your breadsticks in olive oil sprinkled with herbs and spices to cut added calories and fat.
Pair with Salad or Soup
Eat breadsticks alongside a low-calorie salad or minestrone soup for a more balanced appetizer.
Skip the Second Basket
Olive Garden serves unlimited warm breadsticks and it’s tempting to order more. But a second basket means excess calories. Satisfy your initial craving and then move on.
Share with the Table
If dining with a group, order one basket of breadsticks for the table to share. This controls portions while still allowing everyone a taste.
Healthier Alternatives to Olive Garden Breadsticks
If you are looking for appetizer options with fewer carbs and calories than breadsticks, consider these alternatives at Olive Garden:
- Salad: Opt for a crisp garden salad with light dressing on the side. Vinegary dressings like Italian are lowest in calories.
- Soup: Start your meal with minestrone or another broth-based soup packed with vegetables.
- Shrimp Caprese: Grilled shrimp over tomatoes and mozzarella is lower calorie than fried appetizers.
- Steamed Mussels: An appetizer portion of steamed mussels in a light tomato broth is a lean protein choice.
- Grilled Chicken: Get lean protein without the carbs and fat with grilled chicken tenders.
Making Your Own Low-Calorie Breadsticks at Home
An alternative to enjoying Olive Garden breadsticks is to make slimmed-down versions at home. This allows you to control the ingredients and calories. Here is a healthy recipe for skinny homemade breadsticks:
- 1 lb pizza dough
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1⁄4 tsp salt
- 1⁄4 tsp pepper
- 2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
- Fresh herbs like parsley, rosemary, oregano (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Divide pizza dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll and stretch each piece into a breadstick shape.
- Brush breadsticks lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with desired herbs and seasonings.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.
- Remove from oven and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
- Serve warm with marinara sauce for dipping if desired.
This easy homemade version uses lean dough, heart-healthy olive oil, and skips the butter for a guilt-free breadstick you can enjoy without the excess calories and carbs!
The Answer: How Many Calories in an Olive Garden Breadstick?
So to recap the answer to our original question:
There are approximately 140 calories in a single regular-sized breadstick from Olive Garden.
This can range up to 260 calories for Giant breadsticks or be slightly lower if you opt for whole grain. In moderation, breadsticks can be part of a balanced appetizer selection at Olive Garden. But be mindful of portion sizes, and complement breadsticks with low-calorie salad, soup, and lean protein dishes on the menu. Limiting to 1-2 breadsticks per meal can let you satisfy a craving without going overboard on calories.
And for a healthier homemade version, you can make your own skinny breadsticks using simple ingredients including dough, olive oil, and seasoning. This allows you to control the nutrition profile. So enjoy your favorites from Olive Garden’s menu, but be mindful of calories to keep your appetizer choices on track.